TopTenTuesday – Top Ten Books Published Before I was Born

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/

This Week’s Topic: Books Written Before I Was Born

Oh boy. That will be some seriously old tomes! Let‘s see… As usual, I‘ll skip those books I posted here before.

Der kleine Wassermann (The Little Water Sprite), published in 1956
by Otfried Preußler,  Winnie Gayler (Illustrator) 

My favourite Otfried Preußler book as a child, loved it even more than „The Little Witch“. Loved it, loved, loved it! My fascination with books set under water obviously started early. Maybe this book is why? Huh, never thought of that before!

Die kleine Hexe (The Little Witch), published in 1957
by Otfried Preußler

How I loved this book as a child! I read it over and over and over again! Great stuff.

Now to some grown-up stuff… no particular order!

Orlando, published in 1928
by Virginia Woolf

I read this twice, first as a teenager and then again in 2008, as a gropwn-up. It’s a strange book. I fluctuated between being in love with the writing and being bored. Great idea. I liked the movie adaptation with Tilda Swinton, it captures the feel of the book pretty well. And I definitely understood the book much better the second time around. As a teenager I was mostly confused by the mysterious sex change.

King Rat (Asia Saga, #4), published in 1962
by James Clavell

I read this a very long time ago, so my memory is very, very faint. I remember one scene, where the protagonist is hunting rats underneath his prison hut. The rest is pretty much gone. Maybe it’s time for a re-read. I can‘t remember if I read Tai-Pan, but I most definitely read Shogun, several times…

Dracula, published in 1897
by Bram Stoker

I read this For the first time in my late teens, probably. That is when my lifelong obsession with vampires started. This should be required reading for any vampire fan. Followed by mandatory watching of all of Christoper Lee’s Dracula impersonations, rounded off by Gary Oldman as the famous count.

The creepiness of this book has stayed with me through the years. The description of Dracula’s look—his hairy palms where always especially off-putting—the weirdness of his brides, the atmospheric setting….

Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family, published 1901
by Thomas Mann

A trip down memory lane. When I started German Lit in highschool, our teacher gave us this scary list of books we had to read or else. This was on it and the size of it made it scarier still. I read this in the late 80s, so memories are very dim. But to this day I remember how great this book was, how I loved to read about the lives of some of these characters. I never touched this book again and I don’t think I ever will. I am too scared I wouldn’t like it anymore and I don’t want to destroy my feel-good-vibe.

Der Tod in Venedig, published in 1911
by Thomas Mann

This novella is not an easy text for casual reading. I had to slow down my usual speed a lot to understand what I was reading. And to give justice to the beautiful language. Ultimately, this novel was a mixture of beautiful language and boredom. Since this novella is one of Mann’s most important works, I would say that the issue is mine! The subject of the novella was also way outside of my comfort zone. Aschenbach’s obsessive fascination with the boy Tazio was of no value to me. I was uncomfortable with the sexual undertones. From now on I will always see Thomas Mann as a tragic person. I didn’t really like this one.

Der Untertan, published in 1918
by Heinrich Mann

“Man of Straw” is a sharp indictment of the Wilhelmine regime and a chilling warning against the joint elevation of militarism and commercial values.

From the English book blurb

This is Thomas Mann‘s older brother. I fully expected to be bored silly, but I ended up liking it. Very good writing — in German. Can‘t say anything about the translation.

Brave New World, published in 1932
by Aldous Huxley

I read this about 30 years ago, give or take. I struggled with understanding it and remember that I found it hard to get into it. But I liked the concept of the story and ultimately liked the book quite a bit. I think it should be recommended reading for anybody interested in SF that predicts how our society could develop in the not to far away future. Especially nowadays, with the advances being made in cloning, I think this book gains even more importance.

Nackt unter Wölfen, published in 1958
by Bruno Apitz

I read this as a teenager, working my way through my parent’s bookshelf. A pretty gruesome read, when you are that age. Apitz was a prisoner in Buchenwald himself and the story is inspired by a child that was hidden there by the prisoners, so I would assume it has a fair bit of authenticity.

So, that‘s it for this Top Ten Tuesday. I am surprised that I found this many books that I liked (Mostly).

I give up!

Red as Blood, or Tales from the Sisters Grimmer
by Tanith Lee

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I read the first two stories in this book and then stopped. While I like the idea of a different take on classic fairytales, I did not like the style. It felt old fashioned and didn’t grip me enough to stay with it.


Erste französische Lesestücke / Premier Livre
by Christiane Reichhold

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Habe es nach 34 Seiten aufgegeben. Kindische oder altmodische Texte, seltsame Dialoge. Komplett unrealistisch und altbacken. Was um Himmels Willen hat sich die Person, die diese Texte ausgewählt hat, dabei gedacht?

*~*~*
Bilingual texts for Germans wanting to practice their French. DNF after 34 pages. The texts were just to old-fashioned and unrealistic. This was devoid of any fun.

August Wrap-up

Here is my August 2020:

Buddy reads:
– Limit, TBR challenge, carry-over, not terribly keen to continue. Put it back on my bookshelf for now. Sorry!
– The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Zombie, ebook, ★★★★☆, fantasy, betrayal, scheming, revenge, politics.
– Hell’s Aquarium, ebook, ★★★¼☆, Shark Week, Lost World at the bottom of the sea. Very bloody, pulp fiction at its best. The writing is not quite as great, but ok-ish.
– Sharkantula: Shark. Tarantula. Sharkantula., ebook, ★☆☆☆☆, Shark Week. Oh boy, not good. Don‘t bother. DNF at 48%.

Solo reads:
– A Stone Sat Still, ebook, ★★★★★, cute picture book for ages 3-5.
– The Furthest Station, audio, ★★★★☆, in-between novella with Peter and the crew. Goodness with Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.
– 50 Klassiker: Deutsche Schriftsteller von Grimmelshausen bis Grass, paper, library, ★★★☆☆, essays about 50 important male (eye-roll), German authors.
– Leberkäsjunkie, audio, library, ★½ ☆☆☆, cosy mystery, DNF around 40%, mildly funny, caricature of Bavarian smalltown life.

Comics, aka my guilty pleasure:
– Secret Invasion, ebook, ★★★★★, alien invasion in the Marvelverse. Colourful fun.
– BLAME! Vol. 3, ebook, ★★★☆☆, more fighting and silicone life.
– Hellboy Volume 1: Seed of Destruction, ebook, ★★☆☆☆, blocky and flat artwork, too much narration, unexciting plot. Not for me. 

Limit by Frank Schätzing Leberkäsjunkie (Franz Eberhofer, #7) by Rita Falk The Traitor Baru Cormorant (The Masquerade, #1) by Seth Dickinson Hell's Aquarium (Meg #4) by Steve Alten 50 Klassiker Deutsche Schriftsteller von Grimmelshausen bis Grass by Joachim Scholl Sharkantula (B-Movie Novels #1) by Essel Pratt The Furthest Station (Peter Grant, #5.5) by Ben Aaronovitch BLAME! Vol. 3 by Tsutomu Nihei Hellboy Volume 1 Seed of Destruction by Mike Mignola A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel Secret Invasion by Brian Michael Bendis 

50 classic German authors

50 Klassiker: Deutsche Schriftsteller von Grimmelshausen bis Grass
by Joachim Scholl

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was at an open-air theater performance in Tübingen recently. The piece was from Hölderlin and I realized that I know virtually nothing about one of Germany‘s most important poets. So I got this reference book and a short biography about Hölderlin at the library. The biography I put down again pretty quickly. This collection of essays about important German authors was quite entertaining. Each author is covered in a biography of three to five pages, mixed up with portraits of the author, photos of his home or family, a few quotes and summary of the most important work. Each entry was finished with a one-pager for the hurried reader, boiling down the biography to the essentials, offering a short rating and further reading recommendations.

You know what is the most frustrating thing about this book referencing the 50 most important German authors? They are all men. In the introduction the author announces a separate edition for female authors. Why a separate edition? And where is it, 13 years after this one here was published?

Let me give you some examples of female German-language authors that did indeed have an impact on literature:

– Bettina von Arnim (*1785-1859)
– Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (*1797–1848)
– Ricarda Huch (*1864-1947 ), nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature seven times
– Else Lasker-Schüler (*1869–1945)
– Anna Seghers (*1900-1983)
– Ingeborg Bachmann (*1926 in Austria-1973) 
– Christa Wolf (*1929-2011)

Further reading in German:
– Auch ein Land der Dichterinnen und Denkerinnen, https://www.54books.de/auch-ein-land-…

You are welcome!

Back to this book… informative, well-written. The one-pager was printed with black type on a red background, which made for bad contrast and was not easy to read. I am knocking off a star for that and another one for the male bias.


One of Hölderlin‘s most famous poems:

Hälfte des Lebens

Mit gelben Birnen hänget
Und voll mit wilden Rosen
Das Land in den See,
Ihr holden Schwäne,
Und trunken von Küssen
Tunkt ihr das Haupt
Ins heilignüchterne Wasser.

Weh mir, wo nehm´ ich, wenn
Es Winter ist, die Blumen, und wo
Den Sonnenschein,
Und Schatten der Erde ?
Die Mauern stehn
Sprachlos und kalt, im Winde
Klirren die Fahnen.

Half of Life

With its yellow pears
And wild roses everywhere
The shore hangs into the lake,
O gracious swans,
And drunk with kisses
You dip your heads
In the sobering holy water.

Ah, where will I find
Flowers, come winter,
And where the sunshine
And shade of the earth ?
Walls stand cold
And speechless, in the wind
The wheathervanes creak.

Hölderlin’s poems in English translation

Lunchmeat Junkie

Leberkäsjunkie (Franz Eberhofer, #7)
by Rita Falk,  Christian Tramitz (Narrator) 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I got to know author Rita Falk through the German movie adaptations of her series. I like those, so I picked up the audio of this one at my library. One big advantage of the original, German audiobook version is listening to the Bavarian dialect. I haven‘t read the books and don‘t know if speech is written in dialect as well, but I assume so. How this would translate into English, I don‘t know. 

The narrator is a Bavarian actor who I know from other TV shows. He does a very good job and initially I even thought he was the one portraying the main character of this series.

Here is a link to the webpage of the author and her main protagonist (German only). No, German police cars do not usually look this old and quaint. Eberhofer is weird and drives an oldtimer… https://franz-eberhofer.de

What is it all about?

After Franz Eberhofer had to quit his job with the Munich police and was transferred to his home village of Niederkaltenkirchen in Lower Bavaria, he takes it easy with his duties as local law enforcement. His patrols always take him to the village pub for a beer or to his deaf grandmother’s kitchen table. But sometimes Franz also has to investigate rather gruesome deaths.

This is the 7th case. Difficult times for Eberhofer, Franz: his cholesterol levels are as high as his mood is low. Instead of food orgies with grandma, there is only healthy food on the plate. On top of that, his baby-mama stresses him out with out with extremely organized visits for Franz Junior. And as if that weren’t enough, Franz is now facing the most difficult case of his investigative career: a burnt corpse in a guest room at Mooshammer‘s, smeared with fire paste and mutilated beyond recognition. Everything indicates that the murderer comes from Niederkaltenkirchen…
 (rough translation of the German book blurb)

What is Leberkäs, you ask? Have a look at the book cover. It‘s a lunch meat from Southern Germany. It usually comes with a bun and mustard. Essential food item besides beer! Here‘s the Wiki for you: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leberkäse

The reviews for this 7th Eberhofer case are relatively bad. Can‘t say yay or nay, as I haven‘t read any of the others.

What did I think?

The movies are funnier. The story moves along really slowly. After two hours of audio not much sleuthing has happened.

The only black character is a walking clichée, which doesn‘t make this a winner and is embarrassing. Hard to say if the other characters are done well, as I already know them from the movies. They are little more than caricatures.

Another one and a half hours of audio and some change and still nothing much has happened.

In the meantime I have watched the movie adaptation on TV and that was not terribly exciting either. Or terribly funny. And now that I know the ending (have I mentioned that this isn‘t terribly exciting?), I have lost the last bit of interest in this too-cosy mystery. 

Actually, not much of a mystery at all. The crime and it‘s resolution are little more than an afterthought.

DNF after not quite 4 hours of audio (~40%).

July 2020 Wrap-Up

My July 2020:

BR novels:
– Limit, BR with Dennis, TBR challenge, ongoing & carry-over into August
– The Traitor Baru Cormorant, BR, ongoing & carry-over into August

– Dragonflight, as part of The Dragonriders of Pern, ★★★★☆, in the beginning there was a queen‘s dragon egg… Who wants to continue with this series?
– The City We Became, June SF GR, audible, ★★☆☆☆, not for me.

Solo reads:
– Lullaby for a Lost World, short, ★★★★★, magic comes at a high price. Vengeance!
– Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, HarryPotterAtHome, read by various actors (https://www.wizardingworld.com/chapters), TBR challenge (most reviews/highest ratings), ★★★★☆, #HarryPotterAtHome
– Dwarf Stars 2020, poetry, ★★★★☆, SF poems of 10 lines or less.
– Grace Immaculate, short, ★★★★☆, first contact via SETI, alien aliens…
– Wohllebens Waldführer: Tiere & Pflanzen bestimmen, das Ökosystem entdecken, nonfiction, ★★★★☆, easy guide about 250 species of plants and animals in central Europe.
– David‘s Head, in Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 156, ★★★★☆, short story about a roadtrip with an AI
– 2389, ★★★☆☆, space horror brain candy.
– Das Seelenleben der Tiere: Liebe, Trauer, Mitgefühl – erstaunliche Einblicke in eine verborgene Welt, nonfiction, ★★★☆☆, the inner life of animals, pop science.

Comics, aka my guilty pleasure:
– Skyward #13, ★★★☆☆
– Skyward #14, ★★★☆☆
– Skyward #15, ★★★½☆, the end!
– Ascender #6, ★★★★☆
– Ascender #7, ★★★★½
– Sea of Stars #1, ★★★½☆
– Black Science #1, ★★☆☆☆, Lost in Space, travelling other dimensions.

Wanted to read, but didn‘t:
– Unconquerable Sun, BR, wasn‘t that interested anymore
– Ascender, Vol. 2: The Dead Sea, #8, 9 & 10, plan to read it eventually…

Skyward #13 by Joe Henderson Skyward #14 by Joe Henderson Skyward #15 by Joe Henderson Ascender #6 by Jeff Lemire Ascender #7 by Jeff Lemire Sea of Stars #1 by Jason Aaron Black Science #1 by Rick Remender 
Dragonflight (Pern Dragonriders of Pern, #1) by Anne McCaffrey Dwarf Stars 2020 by Robin Mayhall Grace Immaculate by Gregory Benford Wohllebens Waldführer Tiere & Pflanzen bestimmen, das Ökosystem entdecken by Peter Wohlleben 2389 by Iain Rob Wright Lullaby for a Lost World by Aliette de Bodard 
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Harry Potter, #1) by J.K. Rowling Das Seelenleben der Tiere Liebe, Trauer, Mitgefühl - erstaunliche Einblicke in eine verborgene Welt by Peter Wohlleben Clarkesworld Magazine, Issue 156 by Neil Clarke 

Plans for August:
I am in the middle of several things that I need to finish. Plus there is a vague committment to read Shark Week related stuff… 😝

The inner life of animals…

Das Seelenleben der Tiere: Liebe, Trauer, Mitgefühl – erstaunliche Einblicke in eine verborgene Welt

(The Mysteries of Nature Series #2)

by Peter Wohlleben,  Peter Kaempfe (Narrator)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Do animals have emotions? Do fish feel pain? How intelligent are pigs? Can animals lie? And more. Nothing deeply scientific, more of an entertaining pop science primer, interspersed with humourous anecdotes. Each emotion gets an entry with several examples of different animals and how they could feel and what researchers have to say about it. The books culminates in the question if animals can think and solve abstract problems. And if animals have a soul. And if they do, can there be a life after death for them? Seriously?

It was mildly interesting in parts, but pretty shallow, a bit monotonous and with a very repetitive structure. Ultimately I was underwhelmed, I expected more.

Into the woods

Wohllebens Waldführer: Tiere & Pflanzen bestimmen, das Ökosystem entdecken
by Peter Wohlleben

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Easy guide about 250 species of plants and animals in central Europe forests.


Interessant, wenn auch recht oberflächlich. Ich habe was gelernt! Eine Mischung aus Wald-Basisinfo und Bestimmungsbuch.

Ich wußte zum Beispiel nicht, das Dammhirsche keine europäische Art sind und in unseren Wäldern durchaus nicht zu unterschätzenden Schaden anrichten.

Und es gibt eine Menge witzig aussehender Käfer, von denen ich noch nie gehört habe, geschweige denn das ich sie schon mal gesehen hätte.

Am interessantesten fand ich schlußendlich die Infos über importierte Arten und ihre Vor- und Nachteile.

German excursion

Das Joshua-Profil
by Sebastian Fitzek (Goodreads Author) 

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Viele meiner lesenden Bekannten finden Fitzek super, daher habe ich auch endlich mal mein Glück versucht. Und nach 156 Seiten bzw. 36% aufgegeben und das Buch zur Bücherei zurück gebracht.

Der Schreibstil hat mir nicht gefallen und ich fand die Geschichte kein bisschen spannend. So um die 100 Seiten herum wurde es etwas interessanter, da war es mir aber schon egal. Ansonsten war mir die Handlung zu sehr an den Haaren herbei gezogen. 

Jola‘s Stimme paßte für mich nicht zu einem Grundschulkind. Sie klang viel zu erwachsen und war für mich unglaubhaft.

Und wenn man Wiederbelebungsmaßnahmen nicht an Toten (= gerade Verstorbenen) durchführt, an wem denn dann? Und Bettnäßer werden Psychopathen? Entweder die Hauptfigur Max ist ein Idiot oder es könnte tatsächlich sein, das ich Herrn Fitzek nicht mag. 

Vielleicht versuche ich es irgendwann nochmal mit einem andere Fitzek-Titel.


Many of my friends really like Fitzek, he is very successful in Germany. So I decided to give him a try. DNF at 156 pages (36%).

I don‘t usually read novels in German, so the author had an uphill battle with me from the start. I did not like the writing style and the story lacked suspense. Around 100 pages in it got a bit more interesting, but at that point I already didn‘t care anymore. The plot was pretty convoluted, I didn‘t buy it.

Perhaps I will try another of Fitzek‘s books in the future. 


Playlist:
– Biffy Clyro

Aliens in between

ALIEN: In den Schatten: Die komplette Staffel

(Canonical Alien Trilogy #1)

by Tim Lebbon (Goodreads Author)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This is the German version of Alien: Out of the Shadows, which came for free from Audible Germany. And that is a full-cast, abbreviated version of the novel of the same name.

Set between the first two movies. Ripley was awoken somewhere else first and—you might have guessed already—things go downhill fast from there. Not bad. Although it was a little challenging at times to figure out what was going on. The mine reminded me very strongly of the setting of the second movie, especially the whole brouhaha with the escalator. The plot was not terribly imaginative. You basically wait for everybody to be decimated one by one with the exception of Ripley and generally just wonder who will bite the dust next.

Ripley sounds like Ripley (or rather like her German dubbing voice). Great voice casting in general. Ash is a little too repetitive for my taste.

I do not recommend this to anybody who hasn‘t seen some of the movies. As this is an abbreviated version with a lot of vague sound effects and there is little to no world building, I think it would be too meaningless to anybody completely new to the Alienverse. 

P.S.: FROM FILM TO FICTION: CREATING THE ALIEN FRANCHISE’S LITERARY CANON

https://bookriot.com/2020/03/19/alien-franchise-books/


Currently participating in this readathon:

#24b4monday #24b4mondayreadathon 

https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/957268-24b4monday-readathon


And now to something completely different—OMG, is it just me or is this newer WordPress editor a major pain in the derriere? Wow.